The State of Origin has just backflipped on a decision to remove the national anthem from the State of Origin pre-match ceremony, due to an intervention from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison reportedly contacted Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys pleading for him to revoke his decision, saying it was to uphold national unity after a year of struggle.
Within a few hours of the NRL’s announcement to remove the national anthem from the State of Origin, they issued a statement confirming that the decision had been revoked.
“This is a welcome decision by the NRL,” Morrison said.
“The NRL have done the right thing by listening to their fans and acting quickly to overturn their choice not to play the national anthem at the Origin series.
“We have all faced a year of struggle and heartbreak and it has never been more important to be coming together to celebrate Australia and to be able to sing together our national anthem at the game so many of us love.”
The sudden backflip comes after many fans of the NRL were vocal about how they disagreed with the decision to remove the national anthem.
As a proud #QLDER and with two boys playing junior rugby league, I can assure you that if the @NRL does not play the national anthem at state of origin, we are done with the sport. An utter disgrace to Australians and rugby league supporters.
— Accrual World (@AccrualWorld0) October 29, 2020
I do not support the NRL's decision to ban the national anthem at the State of Origin. I am proud of Australia and our anthem. The crowd should sing at the start in defiance of the PC Police.
— Matthew Canavan (@mattjcan) October 29, 2020
However, V’landys insisted that the decision was not politically-driven, but was about the “rivalry and tribalism associated with the Origin series.”
“Our decision not to play the anthem was never about politics. We have always been committed to the anthem as shown at the grand final last weekend,” V’landys said in a statement.
“However, having listened to the public response and given the strong national unity in fighting the COVID pandemic together, the commission has decided it is important to ensure that unity continues.
“We have always been a commission that listens to our fans. We have heard the message and acted accordingly.”
In 2019, State of Origin was plagued with controversy when a number of Indigenous All Stars players stood silent during the singing of Advance Australia Fair.
Indigenous All Star captain Cody Walker said that he felt uncomfortable singing the anthem and that it doesn’t represent himself or his family.
“Australia is a multicultural society so it should be a multicultural anthem in my opinion. A lot of country now is third and fourth generation Australia,” he said.
The anthem was also scrapped from the annual All Stars match earlier this year.